I think for every Lakeland Trail run I’ve entered the weather has been sunny (writes Sarah Briggs). The first time I ran Hawkshead I was pregnant and didn’t know it and the hot weather made the run really hard; the Lakeland Trails Half Marathon was on a glorious sunny day and I loved it until I got to an exposed bit at the end where the midday sun came beating down; this time last year, Ullswater was chilly but the golds, coppers and bronzes of autumn shone under a blue sky.
So imagine my disappointment as I drove towards Glenridding in the rain. Amongst the first to arrive as we were doing the 10k which started at 10.30 am, we drove across the field to park the car and I could feel the wheels slipping slightly.
We walked down to the registration tent, which was packed with runners trying to keep dry before heading out onto the course, others were squeezing under the awning of the coffee tent. Despite the rain there was a cheerful atmosphere with plenty of jokes about the weather.
Even with the rain, the temperature remained mild and with the first part of the run a constant gentle climb, winding our way around Lakeland slate cottages and higher into the mountains, we were all soon warm. Glenridding Beck stormed past us downwards as we made our way upwards; we then turned to make our way back along a relatively level single track path with a steep drop to our left.
The stones were slippery with mud and water and in places there was nowhere to run but through muddy puddles, completely unable to tell how deep they were. At times mountain streams crossed the path: again there was usually no option but to run straight through. My trail shoes are fantastic at getting rid of moisture; unfortunately the pair of socks I had chosen less so – but why be a trail runner if you’re not prepared to get your feet wet?
The route took us up to Red Tarn and then a stony descent before joining the tarmacked track from Grisedale back to the start near Glenridding Pier. At the finish line, the rain having abated a little, people were milling around eating Hog Roast, drinking coffee and cheering each other on: we also got back in time to see the first 15km race start. Mud and water were everywhere, but did anyone care?
As for the car… it seemed a little worrying that later arrivals had been stopped from parking on the field. I looked at my car wheels: the front two were sitting in mud and the back two in water. Would I get the car out?
The answer was ‘no’, initially, but after a few abortive attempts we went to help a couple of other runners with their car, which was also stuck. Having got them off the field they came to help me. Relief as I got the car on to the stony track at the edge of the field; and gratitude that the camaraderie of Lakeland Trails races doesn’t apply just to the runs themselves but to stuck cars too!